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✔️ USA Players Welcome

Most card counters at blackjack are familiar with Don Schlesinger. They are also familiar with his improvements to card counting through the development of the SCORE index and other indices like the Illustrious 18.

SCORE is a concept that has the potential to improve your success at blackjack online or live. You can use it as a refinement of your existing card counting methods. It is meant to be an addition to a system, not a replacement.

What is SCORE?

Don Schlesinger introduced his SCORE system in the book Blackjack Attack published in 1997. That doesn’t seem so long ago by the standards of other blackjack books. In fact, Schlesinger’s work is relatively young when compared to the efforts of Ken Uston or Edwin O. Thorp. Still, in the short time that it has been in print the book has become a classic thanks to concepts like SCORE.

SCORE stands for Standardized Comparison of Risk and Expectation. There are multiple factors that figure into the SCORE methodology. Before we look at those let’s break down the essence of SCORE and what each word in the name means.

Standardized means that the SCORE system seeks to take a combination of data to arrive at a singular assessment. In this case, the assessment is which blackjack game offers the best opportunities for the card player. You should recognize immediately that Schlesinger developed SCORE with live blackjack in mind. Why? Because card counting is not generally effective in online blackjack.

A comparison is made of the various factors to arrive at a decision about which game is the best. The premise here is to be able to evaluate games side-by-side for a better look. Risk, of course, relates to which game offers the lowest amount of risk, and expectation is what the player can hope to accomplish in terms of profit when they use the SCORE system.

The Factors That Are Considered in the SCORE System

Multiple factors are considered when arriving at the SCORE rating. Before we go any farther about the system, let’s state that SCORE is about breaking down the advantage of a certain blackjack game by reducing it to a single number. In that way, the process of comparison is made easier for the player. That sounds simple, but arriving at the number is not such an easy process.

The individual factors that are considered in the SCORE blackjack index are betting strategy, playing strategy, rules, penetration, and risk. In no particular order of importance here is a look at what those factor mean and why they are important.

Betting strategy is the manner in which you will make bets at the blackjack table. It is not the same as basic blackjack strategy. It is a different construct. You can use basic strategy and fail to use a betting method, and loss will often be the result. Using betting strategy without basic strategy is the same as depending on luck to produce your results.

Playing strategy, or basic blackjack strategy, is what determines how you act on your blackjack hand. The actions that you make at the blackjack table have a direct impact on your ability to win or lose. Over the years professional blackjack players have honed basic strategy until they have discovered the best possible play in every situation.

The rules of the game are what dictate the decisions you will make at the blackjack table. Some rules in a live casino mandate that the dealer must hit on 16 and stand on all 17s. Others allow the dealer to hit a soft 17. You will have to know the rules of the game you are playing in order to use SCORE effectively.

Penetration is how deep the cards have been dealt in a shoe. A shoe is used in live blackjack to hold from four to six decks of cards. Card counting depends on deck penetration. This is why it often does not work in live blackjack. In a virtual blackjack game the cards are usually shuffled after each hand. The exception would be the live blackjack games that are starting to appear at many online casinos.

How SCORE in Blackjack Works – A Simplified Example

The entire SCORE approach is too complex to explain in a short article. For the complete explanation you will need to refer to Blackjack Attack. The simplified explanation of SCORE is that it seeks to identify the win rate per 100 hands played in live blackjack. But, the system also requires a few other things.

As developed by Schlesinger, SCORE assumes that the player has a $10,000 starting bankroll. This is way beyond the average of what most Counting Edge readers will be using to play. In this is revealed that Schlesinger designed his system to be used by the serious professional card counter and blackjack expert. It is even more useful when applied by blackjack teams.

SCORE also assumes a Risk of Ruin of 13.5%. That is a much higher number than many blackjack professionals would be willing to accept. There are a few apparent flaws with what Schlesinger has described, but only if you are a recreational player.

Why Does SCORE Have Value For the Recreational Player?

You may be asking why SCORE is so valuable for the average reader of Counting Edge. The answer is that it has the ability to force you to think about various concepts such as risk and expectation. Even if you don’t fully use SCORE when you are playing blackjack online, you still need to know these things if you want to be a successful blackjack player.

Adding knowledge to your arsenal of blackjack tools is vital to your success. The SCORE index is something that you may never use, but knowing about the concepts is something you will use every day. You are already coming into contact with risk and reward in blackjack whether you know it or not. Gain mastery over the concepts and you will gain mastery over the game of blackjack itself.  If you are ready to win at online blackjack, you can read our Casino Max review, Miami Club casino review , High Country casino review, Cherry Jackpot casino review, or Roaring 21 review to name a few. You can also deposit using bitcoin at the casinos.


  1. Why is the SCORE index important for blackjack players?
    • While certain blackjack games might have a higher potential return, they might also come with greater risk. The SCORE index allows players to assess and compare games on a level field, balancing both risk and reward.
  2. How is the SCORE index calculated?
    • The SCORE is calculated using computer simulations that take into account factors such as game rules, penetration, betting strategies, and bankroll. It effectively relates the expected hourly win rate to the risk of ruin.
  3. Is a higher SCORE always better?
    • Generally, yes. A higher SCORE indicates a more favorable game for the player, considering both potential profits and the associated risks.
  4. How do game variations and rules affect the SCORE?
    • Game rules like the number of decks, dealer actions, payout ratios, and splitting/doubling rules can impact the house edge and player’s advantage. These variations will influence the SCORE of a game.
  5. Can the SCORE index be used by casual players?
    • While the SCORE index is particularly beneficial for advantage players and card counters, casual players can also use it as a quick metric to identify more favorable games.
  6. How does deck penetration impact the SCORE?
    • Deck penetration (how deep into the deck or shoe the dealer goes before shuffling) significantly affects card counting effectiveness. Games with deeper penetration generally have a higher SCORE.
  7. Are there tools or software available to help calculate the SCORE index?
    • Yes, various blackjack simulation tools and software allow players to calculate the SCORE for specific game conditions and strategies.
  8. How does the SCORE index relate to other blackjack metrics like the house edge?
    • While the house edge provides a static measure of the casino’s advantage in a game, the SCORE gives a dynamic measure considering both the potential profitability and risk. It’s possible for a game with a low house edge to have a lower SCORE than another game with a slightly higher house edge but better conditions for card counting.
  9. Is the SCORE index only relevant for card counters?
    • While it’s especially relevant for card counters, the SCORE can also be valuable for basic strategy players looking to assess and compare different blackjack game conditions.

Understanding the SCORE index can be a valuable tool for blackjack players, helping to identify the most potentially profitable games while considering the inherent risks. It provides a more comprehensive perspective than just looking at the house edge or specific game rules.


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